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James Masterson House, Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky


349 S. Mill St., Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky
Built 1812

The original frame house (today the back part of this brick) was built by one of the founders of Lexington, James Masterson. Masterson and John Maxwell erected the old block-house at Mill and Main Streets, first called "Maxwell and Masterson's Station" and later "Lexington" (McCullough).

Masterson and wife, Margaret, in deeding the house to John Ennis in 1813 said it was "at the junction with an alley lately laid off by Thos. Bodley," and was part of eight acres of ground sold by James Masterson to Thomas Bodley, who afterwards sold this part of the eight acres to David Dodge "but no deed was executed for the premises." Masterson again referred to "the premises" in conveying 56 1/2 feet here on Mill Street to Ennis. (1818 Directory: "John Ennis, Mill St.")

In 1834, Josiah Ennis and wife, Elizabeth, conveyed "one-third entire part of house and lot, adjoining the lot of Polly Caudry—the entire house and lot belonging to John Ennis, dec'd" to Elijah Ennis.

In 1832, a suit (Polly Caudry vs. John Ennis' heirs) caused the sale of the house and lot and John W. Russell bought it. The heirs all living in Jefferson County, Ky., by that time, made conveyance in 1835. The deed said it was "the same house and lot conveyed to John Ennis by James Masterson and wife."

Russell, a carpenter, built the brick front of the house and erected and moved into the brick house next door, renting this house. After his death, the frame house was allotted to his widow, Mrs. Mary Ann Russell, by Gen. John M. McCalla, in April 1842, deeded in April, 1843.

In November, 1843, Mrs. Russell recorded a lease on the house to O.L. Leonard, who mortgaged the following articles as security for ten months rent:

Twelve mahogany chairs (cost) $100, 96 yards carpet ingrain $65, sideboard $40, looking glass $50, pair Mahogany tables $36, piano $60, 2 high-post bedsteads $40, 10 volumes Franklin's works $25, 2 volumes Brown's Intellectual Philosophy, a volumes Shuckford's Connections, 2 vols. Wesley's works $5, volume Newton on Prophecies $4, volume Bigelow's Technology $3.25, volume Says Political Economy $1.50, volume Faraday's Manipulations $3.25, volume Webster's Chemistry $2.50, 2 volumes—one Cavallos' Philosophy $3.12, one Turner's Chemistry, $1.50, Day's Mathematics $3, Webster's Academician $3, Olmstead's Astronomy $25.

The above was "to secure the rent for 10 months at $155 per annum, making $130.16 2/3—that collection today would bring a good "antique" price!

Mrs. Russell sold the house "where McMeekin now lives" in 1844 to W.L. McMeekin, who conveyed it in 1857 to Wm. McMeekin. The McMeekins sold it in 1872 to Peter S. Rule, the deed still showing it was the original pioneer house of the famous James Masterson "re-vamped." Rule and his wife resided here until their death. The Timberlakes (Mrs. Timberlake was a sister of Mrs. Rule) also lived here.

Source: Old Houses of Lexington, C. Frank Dunn, typescript, n.d., copy located in the Kentucky Room, Lexington (Kentucky) Public Library.

Transcribed by pb, October 2006